Last Updated on October 3, 2023 by Editorial Team
Project-based learning is a form of active learning that most teachers employ as teaching pedagogy today. Project-based pedagogy has had several benefits for the students and leads to their academic and professional advancement. Impacting their self-confidence, critical thinking, executive functioning, and overall growth, project-based learning is a must during middle school, high school, and university education.
While high schools and universities still pose a heavy reliance on the methodology, middle school is a good starting point for students to get accustomed to divergent forms of thinking and a solution-focused mindset.
So, the article below discusses a few project-based learning ideas that can be easily used with middle school students.
Out-of-the-box project-based learning ideas for middle school
Project-based learning ideas for middle school given below are a combination of social, environmental, and practical knowledge.
1. Support and Promote A Local Business
Local businesses could be a great starting point for middle school children. It could be a business of arts and crafts, handmade items, or simply local artists who should be appreciated for their talent. Students can be asked to find out about the history of their craft, how they are different from others, and why should people buy from them or invite them to events. The project could consist of the progress that the business made through the efforts of the student to promote their work and talent.
2. A World Without Animals
A world without animals could be a project in the form of a documentary, where the essence of having a world devoid of other species looks like. It can highlight the importance of evolution, the food chain, and the natural balance of the environment.
Using clips of various pets as well as interactions with people in the wilderness, students can raise awareness about endangered and extinct species. The presentation of the project must be the main USP and students must be given full freedom in using creative mediums.
3. Finding Solutions to Environmental Problems
Environmental problems are on the rise. Be it garbage overload, air pollution, water pollution, or climate change, environmental problems have been studied for a very long time. However, books fail to generate the concern and ownership to take a stand and do something.
A project focused on one environmental concern can be undertaken by the student and solutions regarding the same can be sought, after interacting with professionals and people who provide day-to-day services of environmental cleaning.
4. Family History
Every family has a different history. The migration story, settling problems, and family expansion, all can provide rich insight into the various cultures and communities of the world. Even the same states and regions contain immense diversity, thereby, helping students to learn so much about the variety of ethnicities and their traditions.
If not their own, students can be encouraged to talk to people like their housemates, factory workers, or society elders and prepare a brief report on their origin and history.
5. Develop An Adventure Game
The game landscape is flooded with adventure games of all sorts. And children are brimming with new ideas about features, improvements, and upgrades. Hence, assigning them a project on developing an adventure game, based on any premise, would give them a boost of creativity and help them interact with the world of adventure better.
It can be a game set in the future or one set in prehistoric times. Thus, putting no binding on creative thinking. Establishing rules about how to play, would further their understanding of wrong and right.
6. Societies of The World
There are several societies in the world, some of which are not even discovered yet. Tribes of the Amazon or the indigenous communities of the world can expand the knowledge of children. Students can be allowed to dress up like them, speak their language, or shed light on the traditions they follow. The anthropological angle would provide students with acceptance and tolerance towards various communities.
7. Develop A Business Idea
What do you want to become when you grow up? Almost every child has been asked this question and some even have an answer to this. What if they were asked to start a business? The young mind would be flooded with ideas. However, it is important for the teacher to address that a business cannot happen without planning.
Hence, apart from coming up with a business idea, students can be asked what is the problem they are solving through this business idea, how they wanna go about and maybe even conduct a pilot to test its real-life applicability.
8. A New Earth
According to the Big Bang Theory, the earth was created after the Big Bang, but what if there was yet another earth where life exists? Using this as the premise, teachers can ask students to use their imagination or factual knowledge to create an image of this new earth and how life would be like there.
They can also come up with the civilizational growth that might have happened on the new earth and if asked to migrate, what would be the answer? The New Earth activity can also be used to help the children identify the need for a new Earth and the things that can be done differently there.
9. Create A Holiday
Holidays are loved by all. However, students look forward to spending their time playing, celebrating, eating, and dressing up. Hence, asking them to create a holiday for themselves and the reason for the holiday, would broaden their horizon toward tradition and celebration.
The only exception here should be that students cannot use birthdays as holidays. It is likely that some might say that there must be an assigned holiday between the week, while others would want important days like Father’s Day, pet’s day, or Environment Day to be celebrated in a different manner.
10. Create Logos For Brands
Brands come up with logos to protect their authenticity. While students have already been assigned the task of coming up with a business idea, creating logos for brands would add an innovative angle to the whole business creation venture. Students can be allowed to use technology or pen and paper to create logos that best align with famous brands.
Effectiveness of project-based learning for middle school
Project-based learning has systematically expanded its hold in the education sector. But what grades is it best suitable for? While project-based learning can be adjusted to match the learning capacity of the students, however, middle and high school students demonstrate a high need for project-based learning.
In a study by Riham Sahib Tamimi, it was found that using project-based learning in schools to teach foreign languages, improves the motivation and engagement of students significantly.
Yet another study by Mohammed Almulla, found that project-based learning was successful in student engagement and exchange of knowledge, and must be used at Universities.
Project-based learning has proven its success time and again. Yet, applicability suffers due to a lack of training and information. However, it is a must that middle school children learn to use critical thinking and solution-based approaches, as the relevance of such a mindset increases later in age.
With project-based learning, students can be offered a practical orientation at the right age with proper supervision and guidance. Furthermore, asking a few critical thinking questions can be blended well with other project-based learning ideas, that can be impactful for the students.
- Tamimi, R. (2020). Effectiveness of Project-Based Learning on Students’ Achievement and Motivation towards English in an EFL environment.
- Almulla, M. A. (2020). The Effectiveness of the Project-Based Learning (PBL) Approach as a Way to Engage Students in Learning. SAGE Open, 10(3), 215824402093870. https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244020938702
An engineer, Maths expert, Online Tutor and animal rights activist. In more than 5+ years of my online teaching experience, I closely worked with many students struggling with dyscalculia and dyslexia. With the years passing, I learned that not much effort being put into the awareness of this learning disorder. Students with dyscalculia often misunderstood for having just a simple math fear. This is still an underresearched and understudied subject. I am also the founder of Smartynote -‘The notepad app for dyslexia’,